Medium of Expression

Isn’t life beautiful?

Yes, it is because connections are being realized. All my five senses are helping me establish my being. The mind is able to analyze and interpret it . And because I am able to express it through words, I am loving it.

Finally things are moving, I can feel it. Slowly the process has begun…the ride is smoother not as choppy as before. There are not skipped letters or smudging pn paper. My pen (fountain) feels like that it belongs to me. It took its time to break-in time before becoming mine. As soon as the fight between two of us stopped the fact just dawned upon me that true relationships take time to bloom and flourish.

Last night, I happened to spend sometime with my kind of new fountain pen. I had just finished filling up its ink tank. I scribbled few words to make sure the flow was optimum. Suddenly, there was nothing, but my pen and me. In that moment of nothingness, I asked a question, “Would you be my friend for life? Would be able to support me all the time; in certainties and uncertainties? Would you help me in my journey of Ayurveda?

And then I felt some vibrations on the tip of my finger. I felt some movement on the other side. My hand holding the pen was moving but the words were not mine. The upward and downward lines of the letters began to connect. All of a sudden my handwriting changed. It was cursive,  (which I hardly ever do.)

Yes! My pen wanted to convey something. My Namiki wished to say something as if it had life in it. How could a pen say something? It was confusing but it was beautiful. I didn’t want it to stop. So, I just kept writing; whenever it was the pen talking the handwriting changed. (My pen talking or expressing would be in Italics and in blue.)

“Why do you think I came into your life?

Why did you take your husband to the book shop to buy a fountain pen?

And then why did he not want to use the most expensive pen he ever paid for in his whole life?

Why did he gift it back to you asking you to break-in*? 

I got impatient by its insensitivity (no hello, no introduction) and then I was taken aback by so many questions. I asked again, “Is this true? Are you my pen?

A drop or two of ink bloated on the paper as if few tears were shed. The handwriting changed again. It was cursive but it had slowed down a bit and there were some spelling errors. The fluency was missing this time. It appeared as if someone is in pensive mood.

“Yes, it is me, your black pen with black lid. The lid that has a gold ring at the edge and golden clip. the nib is movable for effortless penmanship.”

Things began to change inside me. I softened a bit. I wanted it to continue so I waited.

“I Namiki, wanted to tell you that I would stay with you as long as you would like me to.  I was locked inside a black box held between a white elastic string. Even though my butt lay on a soft, leathery, suede like material it was uncomfortable. I couldn’t move plus that shiny, golden pentagon logo of mine didn’t let me nod off. You showed me the light of the world and I am ever so grateful to you for that. I know you didn’t bring me into your life for yourself but you are the harbinger. You pumped life into me, you are ‘Maa’. 

I took a deep breath. ‘Maa’ means mother is a small word but it is loaded. It comes with lot of emotions. I felt the vibe.

 “You started spending time with me, started with following care instructions. I was your prized possession, you showed me off to your friends. Quietly, you carried me around everywhere you went but you took me out only when you thought it was safe for me. You even saved the box in which I came as a souvenir. I felt important and thanks for taking such good care of me. My biggest day was when you filled my tank with the royal blue ink. I felt as if I got wings, now I could fly. I could express, I could be me and finally I could achieve my purpose.”

I was speechless, thoughtless lost in the moment. The pen slipped off my hand and fell on the paper. I thought that is it. I softly picked it up looked at it carefully (lovingly, I am not sure.) There was no physical difference than it was half hour back but something has definitely happened between us.

I would say, “Maa, I felt  as if the connection was formed from the day one but it has taken you few months to realize it. I am thankful that we have formed a bond and you don’t consider me as a commodity anymore. I am yours and will always be there to help in your future pursuits. Always remember this, ” A pen is mightier than a sword.” So, please keep me close, keep my me full and we will live happily ever after. 

Connection has been realized.


*break-in* is the term used by fountain pen experts to make the new pen write smoother.

Blame Game

Bogale approached his mother and said, “I know that vase meant a lot to you. It was your mother’s last gift to you. I am sorry Mom you lost it because of me.”

Zeni quietly looked at him and said nothing.

“Mom, why aren’t you angry with me? Accuse me for what happened, please say something.” Bogale said.

Zeni looked at him, smiled and said, “Bogale, you know that this vase was the last gift one from my mother but do you know that she had given me some other gifts that are more valuable than that vase.”

Then she took out some milk from the bottle, poured in a pan and put it on the stove to boil.  Once that milk started rising she took some lemon juice and poured it on the milk. The milk began to curdle. She poured more lemon juice and it curdled more.

Lemon+ heat = Curdled milk

Bogale was not sure what his mother was trying to do. He kept looking at her closely.

“Bogale, a perfectly normal relationship get spoiled if you loose your calm or get angry and start blaming each other. A bad situation becomes worse. And we don’t want that to happen in our life, son.”

A Practical Fool

By Nandita Gaur

How could she not recognize me? The question kept repeating itself; my head was churning. I had to put in a lot of effort to reach the venue of my own party. I was trying hard to focus but my brain had frozen.

Soon, I was standing in front of hundreds of people whose names I had single-handedly printed and pasted on invitation cards for my book launch party. Being a confident orator and an impressive presenter that I am, it would have been a matter of few minutes to win everybody’s heart. It was different today; my mouth was dry and I was sweating. I looked around to get a feel. Few people who knew me better than others understood that something unusual had happened.

I gave the best possible smile and held the microphone in my shaking hands, tapped on it to check if it was working. In a very monotonous tone I began.  “You must be thinking what kind of prudish male comes late for his own book launch? I am sorry friends, but Cee Jay the author of two best selling novels is not a snobbish male.” With a slight bow, I continued, “This man standing before you, considered an idol of composure by many, is a practical fool. I have to confess the biggest mistake that I made in my life.” For many months I have been waiting for this day. I had planned on telling you about my new book, its protagonist, some great things about it and the rave reviews that I got from my reviewers, instead of which, I am going to tell you how I made a fool of my myself?”

“On many occasions people have asked me about my relationships. They were curious and wanted to know- “why was I still single?” It was hard for them to digest that a man in his forties with seemingly good looks, a creative brain, and who writes about love doesn’t have a woman in his life. I never had an answer to this question. Each time I would make a joke about it and somehow get away without saying much.”

“It all started when I was in middle school. I was in sixth grade when my mom taught me about Scientific Method. She was preparing me for the upcoming Science Fair Project. What I did for the project is a different story altogether. One thing that I certainly understood was the practical way of approaching things. I mapped out that when you have a question– you make a hypothesis – you devise an experiment or steps to check your hypothesis- based on the experiment you collect data and then finally you have conclusions and results.” It was all set.


I tested this logic on few things and it worked. One of my studies was – “Why do obnoxious little brothers cry so loudly even if they are not hurt as bad?” I studied my brother’s behavior and hypothesized that he wanted to get me in trouble. For the sake of the experiment, I deliberately did few things to make my younger brother cry and finally I concluded that my hypothesis was right. As soon as he cried, I used to hear my Mom’s voice inquiring, “Jay, what’s going on? Why are you hurting your bother?” Which followed spanking or a long lecture depending on how loud my brother could yell. Anyways, I became a big fan of Scientific Method, so much so that I even wanted to know all about the scientists who started it.

After experimenting few more things for couple of years I became a pro. I had a very good understanding of how scientific method works. I was in my freshman year in a co-ed school when I got a brilliant idea for my study. Girls.

Why do girls act weird at times?

This question changed my life forever. I started thinking of them as a subject of my study, I observed them and their behavior. For me their feelings, body language, actions and reactions were nothing more than a data. After studying them for sometime, I knew about all the girls in my class. Which girl liked which boy? How would the girl react if the boy she liked looked at her? How a girl’s mood would fluctuate when her prospective boyfriend talked to her friend? What does she like about that boy? I even knew about the girls who were kind of studious and kept their feelings well hidden. I knew it all. I passionately studied my subjects and the best part was that I was never wrong about them. I was able to predict some of the incidents or accidents even before they took place. My friends admired me for my ability. I was their hero. I was higher than everyone especially the girls- my subjects. I began to think of myself as God.  Everyone wanted to know the secret but I trusted none; not even my best buddies.

None but one; she knew about my research and my formula. She was a girl who lived next door. I never thought of her as a girl or boy. I don’t remember how tall she was or how she did her hairs or what was the color of her eyes or which color- pink or yellow looked best on her. We enjoyed our camaraderie; she was a special person whom I liked to talk to and share things with. She was always a good listener and probably that’s what worked between us. I used to talk and talk and she just listened. She was not in my school but she knew everyone in my class.

Whenever we went out to the promenade near our house and accidentally met some of my classmates, she would recognize them just by their body language. We had secret names for everyone. Later, when they left we used to make fun of them and laugh. It was a beautiful time. I still cherish the time we spent together.

Three years later, I started college. Her family was about to move to another city.  Nothing had changed for me; she was still a friend next door and all the other girls were my data. It didn’t change even when she was leaving. She came to say bye and I was still telling her about the girls I met in my college. Finally, I asked her if she has my dorm number and she said, “Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.” And then she left. I liked how the phrase sounded but didn’t make much sense to me. At that time, how would that make any sense? I didn’t know that it was going to be our last conversation in a long-long time.

She had left and I missed her. I wished I had someone to share my findings with. I knew what city she lived in but something stopped me from taking that extra step to find her. I don’t know what it was but I easily let her go off my life.  

Years passed, the space where she used to live remained vacant. I met many people, made many friends but instead of filling the gap, they kept widening it. Soon, the vacuum of her absence began to haunt me. To save myself from the depression, I started putting my feelings combined with my findings on paper. Dear friends, my books are the result of the pain I suffered because of my foolishness. My scientific approach towards life forced me to live the glorious years of my youth in solitude- sans my love, my first love.


In spite of the fact that my books are listed in best selling books, I don’t like the depressing ends. If she had been with me I would have been able to give them a better climax. My writing, my life might have been livelier, more beautiful and more meaningful.

God is merciful. He grants us a second chance and today, after twenty-seven years I got one to undo my mistake. I saw her. I met her and not too far from here. She was browsing through my books at the bookshop right around the corner of Winchester and San Thomas. She was looking beautiful, elegant, youthful and poised. She still has the best quality in her; she was as peaceful as she was during our school years.

I approached her and talked to her. I introduced myself to her that I am the author of the books she was holding in her hands. She got excited. Then she said, “I have read both your books. I had a friend who used to think like you.”

I was shocked. How could she not recognize me?  It didn’t matter if I was writing under a penname. I was standing before her- in person she should have been able to recognize me.

Even before I could get grip on my thoughts, a little one came and started pulling her, “Mommy, let’s go.”

She slightly nodded, looked at me and smiled, “Do you have a pen? Please give me your autograph?”

Something stopped me from saying what she had said to me many years back, “Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.”

At that moment, I realized that it was my ego that allowed me to let her go the first time and once again it had stopped me from telling her that I loved her. She was the one for me and I am still waiting for her.

I stood still. She waited for my response for few seconds and then searched her bag for something. Not finding a pen, she took out a card and handed it to me.

“I am Liz, Elizabeth Gardener, a Marriage Counselor in San Francisco.” Smilingly she shook hands with me saying, “if in case you ever need me.”

“And once again, she left me and didn’t even care to turn back to check if someone was watching her go or not. “

I stopped and then continued to address the silent crowd before me.

“Folks, this revelation has helped me to pull myself out of my agony. Last time I let her go off my life easily but that wouldn’t be the case this time. Previously, she left me with some empty spaces but it’s different now, those spaces have seen some light.” I said waving the visiting card; she gave me, before my audience. “I am hopeful that I will see her again and then I will get all the answers. How could she possibly not recognize me?”

 “I have learned my lesson, my friends. Honestly, I thank you all for being patient with me and listening to what I had to tell you today.”

India and Indians

The Dialogue-

    “ I love India … I love you … Thank you, thank you so much.” Mary was murmuring in her sleep when Todd softly shook her shoulder to wake her. She opened her eyes and gave him a sweet, innocent smile.

    It was the same smile that had attracted Todd towards Mary the first time; the smile that has gone missing from their life for last nine months. She was then diagnosed with some abnormalities in her blood. Things have not been the same; she has been in and out of the hospital many times.

    Slowly she said to Todd, “Look out for Indians, the Indians from India. I will be one soon.”

    “What rubbish are you talking about, we are Americans; how can we be Indians?” sitting up on the bed Todd replied with slight agitation.

    “I am not talking about you- I am telling you what was in my dream today. Todd, somebody told me that in my next life I would be born as an Indian. I am so happy; I would be fortunate if this dream comes true. The dream itself gives me the strength. I am not scared of death anymore.” Few drops trickled down her eyes. She wiped her cheeks and continued, “Now, I don’t consider death as bad. It’s true that death is like switching the carriages in a moving train.”

    Todd moved closer to her, took her hands in his and said, “stop talking about life and death, you will be fine and please save this smile. It gives me the strength. Okay tell me, why being an Indian makes you so happy?”

    Mary said with pride, “I love Indians because of their simplicity, their ability to love others without conditions or limits. I am intrigued about the great scriptures like The Gita, The Guru Granth Saheb and some others, the names of which I don’t even know. Do you know that Guru Granth Saheb is the book of worship for Sikhs? This book specially talks about- respect for women. I want to learn all about Indian cultural and traditions.”

    Todd hadn’t seen such child-like excitement and happiness in Mary for years. “She seemed to be rejuvenated by the thought of being an Indian.” He thought to himself.

    Mary continued, “India is the land of Gandhi, who fought the biggest standing army of the world by virtue of truth and non-violence. Following Gandhian Principles, King Jr. fought the curse of inequality in America. Gandhi was a World leader. I want to play in his soil, Todd.”

    She stopped and took a sip from the glass of water on the side table and said, “I want to be on that land because that taught the power of yoga and meditation to the whole world.” She looked at her husband and asked, “Will this dream of mine ever come true?”

    Todd took a deep breath and said, “Mary, you don’t have to wait for the next life to do all this. You can do as much learning as you want … starting now. And once you have recovered we will travel the land of Gandhi and other great things that you just talked about.” He hugged her, “Your dream will come true, my dear and that’s a gentleman’s promise.” And they both smiled.

    “I love India … I love you … Thank you, thank you so much.” Mary reiterated but this time it was not in her dreams.

    The Epilogue-

Four months have passed since Mary and Todd had this conversation. Mary is recovering well. In two weeks, she is going to have a Bone Marrow Transplant. She looks happy and cheerful. Now, she has something to look forward to; she is already planning her visit to India.

This is the magical role of India and Indians in 21st century. People of other cultures get inspired from us. They aspire to be like us – the true Indians who are advancing but are still attached to their roots. People want to be Indians because of our love and respect we have for our motherland, our culture and our traditions.

Jai Hind, Jai Bharat

Dilldaar Chicken

A chicken dish named as Dilldaar Chicken may sound somewhat Bollywood-ish. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity of showing off my love for Hindi movies and for food in one place 🙂

The other reason for this name is that this dish has English Dill in it. Dill is an ingredient that we Indians know as Soa, Savaa, Sheva or Soya. Dill is considered to have great anti-gas properties which makes this dish easier to digest.

In the list of ingredients I didn’t mention that I included my Hindi Dil (Heart) in my cooking as well. It’s the secret ingredient that everyone knows makes food taste tastier.


Oil, Whole spices (Cinnamon, Cumin, Cloves, Cardamon black & green,) Chicken, Onion, Ginger-garlic paste, Powdered spice (Turmeric, Garam masala, Chilli, Coriander, Cumin) Tomato, Tomato sauce, Some chicken masala (if you have it,) Yogurt, Kasuri Methi (dry Fenugreek leaves,) Finely chopped ginger.

Whole Garam Masala

Powdered Garam Masala

Let the party begin; In a heavy pan put about one-third cup of oil. Once hot put in the whole masala in the pan and let it splatter. Put chopped onions into the oil and cover it with the lid. After copule of minutes open it and stir. Add a tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste and let it cook until the mixture is light brown in color.

Duo of onions and whole spices

Caramelized onions with ginger-garlic paste

Once the onions are slightly caramelized add your chicken to it. Cover it and let the chicken cook until the chicken releases its water. It might take about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile dice tomatoes and get the tomato sauce. Once the chicken has released the water, add half a cup of water to your powdered spices and add it to your pan. Deglaze (It is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving caramelized bits of food from your pan) with the water that you have added in spice paste. If needed add more water. Mix it well and cook it for a minute or so and then add tomatoes and its sauce.

Main ingredient is in

Photo says it all

This chicken dish will be tender and soft if you cook it covered. Continue cooking this mixture for about 15-20 minutes. Wash and chop few sprigs of Dill. Once the chicken almost done add this cut and chopped dill to it.

Almost done chicken

Dill (SOYA, SOA...)

Open the lid and switch off the stove when chicken seems to be ready. Wait for a couple of minutes; once the liquid stops bubbling put one-third cup of yogurt and add Fenugreek leaves to it. Mix it well. Cover it up and light the burner again.

Chicken with Dill

Kasuri Methi/ Dry Fenugreek Leaves

When some oil appears on the surface of the gravy; the chicken is ready. Just before you are ready to switch off the stove garnish it with finely chopped ginger and put the lid back.

Dilldaar is ready to be served

Ginger is for garnishing


Where is He?

It has been almost two weeks since I saw him last. Where is he? How is he? Why did we meet? Not even a single day has gone by when I didn’t think about him. I look for him every time I walk past the gate, I saw him last.

It was a fine morning. I decided to walk to my son’s preschool to drop him there for the day. The school is not too far from my house; less than a quarter of a mile but it’s on the other side of a major street. When I was about to reach that intersection, I saw a woman briskly walking to her destination. And then moments later I saw him. He was running haphazardly; he seemed to be little confused. He stopped in front of that woman and started barking. She picked something and hurled at him.

I am not speaking figuratively; he really started barking at her because that’s what dogs do. I stopped in the middle of the road watching him bark. I was scared, even though it was far from us and facing in the other direction. I am not an animal lover but I don’t want to harm them either. I enjoy a very neutral relationship with them. I don’t try to get close to them and I don’t want them to be anywhere close to me. Where I live, we usually don’t come across a lion or a tiger in the middle of the road, it’s usually a dog and they are enough to scare me. If by any chance they come in my vicinity, I generally forget to breathe. Dogs are dogs; the size, shape, color or design doesn’t make a difference. A Chihuahua is as scary as a German shepherd or a Bulldog. Long story short, this barking, and four-legged creature; supposedly ‘man’s best friends’, scares crap out of me.

Without much thinking I just picked up my son and quickly crossed the busy road. I think someone even honked at me but that didn’t matter. My main aim was to get away from that barking dog as quickly as possible. I reached school, dropped my kid off, talked to teachers, other parents and forgot about the dog. On my way back, I crossed the road and came to the side where my house is. I waved at my friend driving by. Smiling, humming and enjoying the morning I came to the corner of my street. Suddenly, all smiles vanished.

I saw the same barking dog charging towards me. I froze; by God’s grace he also stopped. I don’t remember breathing at that time. I looked around to find someone who can help me, may be the owners or someone who can shoo him away so that I can run to my house never to look back again. There was no one around. Not finding anyone, I looked at him. He was already looking at me. He seemed to be confused but it was I who was more panicked. I felt as if the only option I was left with was to fell on his feet and beg him to let me go, “please, please … Bhagwaan ke liye mujhe jaaney do.” (… for God’s sake let me go.) It is well known dialogue from Hindi movies but don’t worry that didn’t happen. It wasn’t as dramatic.

I kept looking at him. He barked at me once or twice but stood at his place. He didn’t try to come near me, which was kind of relieving. While looking at him I realized that something has gone wrong with his life. He seemed to be kind of lost and looking for someone who could help him or understand him. He too needed help. At that moment, I remembered reading something about oneness with all life in the book “The Power Of Now” By Eckhart Tolle.

That thought helped me; my feelings changed towards him. I was not as scared as before but I was still not ready to touch him. I was much relaxed and back in control. As soon as I got a grip on myself, I found myself talking to that dog in my mother tongue. It might seem crazy; Imagine a woman talking to a dog in Hindi in the middle of the road in America but yes that’s what happened.

I felt as if I was standing before a 5-6 year old boy (not a dog,) “Hey you, what are you doing here in the middle of the road? Who are your parents? Where’s your house?”

The dog opened his mouth, probably to bark but he just squeaked and sat down.

I took few steps towards him and continued my dialogue with him, “Don’t you know it’s not safe to run around in the middle of the road. Come now, go, go to your house. Come’ on go now and stop this horse play.”

He moved. He stepped back and quietly entered a slightly open wooden fence gate. He went in and calmly sat down on the grass.

I stood there for sometime then took a deep breath and began to finish my rest of journey to my house. After taking few steps, I looked back and called out at him, “Now be a good boy and stay safe.”

That was it. It was the last time I saw him and since then I have been looking for him. Even after two weeks, I look for him everywhere, left and right; I tried to listen for his bark. A sign or something that tells me he is fine and that the house he went in was his but till now no luck. I am kind of missing him, which is peculiar knowing the kind of person I am.

A Blessed Drop

I was walking back home after dropping my son at his school. Like always it was a beautiful morning. The Sun was hiding behind the clouds. It was not warm; it was not cold. A gentle breeze was blowing the dry yellow leaves away from their trees. Strolling beneath a Ginkgo tree, few leaves flew past over my head, touching my hairs softly. It felt like I have just been blessed. I looked around and saw three pairs of pigeons chirping on the electric wire. I don’t know why but I remembered an old Hindi song and started singing. The beautiful morning became more beautiful.

Suddenly, I felt something wet trickling down my cheek. It wasn’t a tear; it was something more blissful, something purer than a tear. I touched and took the drop on my fingertip and looked at ‘it’. ‘It’ made me feel the intense joy within. My whole entity was filled with graciousness towards the creator. He had allowed me to experience the beauty of his creations. Touching that little drop, I was able to physically feel his presence. ‘It’ was the blessed.

Ginkgo Tree

Slowly as the drop dried up on my finger, it made me realize the nature of our belief in the creator. I understood that even though it’s commonly practiced but generally it’s very fragile.

Deja vu

Everything looked perfect. Yellow and green, pink and blue braided streamers ran across the ceiling. Few balloons were placed at each corner of the room and others were taped on each side of the banner that read “HAPPY BIRTHDAY.” Tables were moved by the wall to put the snacks and food on. And rest of the room was arranged to accommodate Saakshi’s friends from school and neighborhood.

Meena, Saakshi’s mother was as excited as her daughter. She was a proud mother of a smart, confident young girl, who had just turned thirteen. While putting a natural shade of pink on her lips Meena was crossing off the things of the list she had made in her mind for her daughter’s party.

“How do I look?”

Meena’s chain of thought broke but she was pleased to hear that eager voice. Saakshi was standing before her in pink and white floral new dress. The dress was Saakshi’s choice. Meena couldn’t agree more that she looked graceful and beautiful in that dress. She praised and congratulated Saakshi for her decision. She was overwhelmed by her mother’s remarks but before she could hug her the doorbell rang. Saakshi jumped to look out the window and see who was there at the gate.

Her smile suddenly vanished. Gloomily Saakshi asked Meena, “What is he doing here? Why did you invite him?”

“That’s no way talk, he is an elderly person and you should be respectful of him. Go open the door and welcome him.”

“But Maa,” Saakshi tried to say something but Meena interrupted her.

“No, buts… no nothing… please let him in. Growing up doesn’t mean that you become disrespectful and forget your manners.” Meena said sternly.

Saakshi gritted her teeth and stomped her way out of her mother’s room. She grumbled, “Why don’t you ever listen to me. No one understands me here.” And then she yelled, “Maa, you could never stand for yourself how could I expect you to stand for me.” Saakshi opened the living room door and let Vinayakji in. Without saying anything she slipped into her room.

Vinayakji was a frequent guest in the Agarwal household. He was a sixty-three years old, retired personnel from Indian Railways. Both Meena and her husband Satish respected him a lot. They revered him as father and his wife Ammaji as mother. Meena and Satish had lost their parent early on in their lives. They had always felt the need of filling that empty space. This vacuum began to fill up when year and half back Vinayakji and Ammaji moved into their neighborhood after their retirement.

Meena felt sad by her daughter’s remarks. She knew that her daughter was pointing towards her weakness; her low confidence. She decided to say nothing and once again she let it go and be trampled by someone (after all Saakshi was her only daughter and it was a special day for both of them.) She smiled and went to the living room to greet Vinayakji. She bowed and touched his feet.

Slowly sitting down on the couch he asked, “It’s Saakshi’s birthday but she looked upset. What happened to her?”

Meena was not prepared for this question. She tried to deviate and asked, “Where is Ammaji? Why didn’t you bring her along?”

He quickly said, “She was not feeling too well but I had to come. After all it’s our Saakshi’s birthday. She is a big girl now.”

“That’s the problem.” Meena said nonchalantly.

Suddenly Vinayakji stood up and said, “Don’t worry, I will go and talk to her. She will be happy to see the gift I bought for her.”

Before Meena could say anything he was halfway through the hallway and was about to enter Saakshi’s room. He looked back at Meena, smiled and then slowly knocked at the door. Meena smiled back and went into the kitchen to prepare tea and snacks for the guest.

Soon, Meena heard the sound of music coming out of Saakshi’s room. It was the sound track- “Sheila ki jawaani” from the new movie, Tees Maar Khan. This was the biggest hit of the year and Saakshi wanted this CD for sometime. Meena was assured that her daughter’s mood must have lightened up with the gift she got from Vinayakji. Soon she will be ready to have fun at her birthday party. She pictured a smile on Saakshi’s face and got busy in making dumplings.

Ten minutes had passed since Vinayakji went into Saakshi’s room. A different number was playing on the player. Tea and snacks were ready, so Meena went to her room to call them.

A couple of steps before she reached the door- she froze. Her legs were heavy and she couldn’t walk any further.

The door to Saakshi’s room was not closed completely. From the space between the door and the frame she could see what was going inside. Vinayakji was sitting next to Saakshi and trying to slip his hands under her dress. Saakshi was trying to stop his hands but she looked scared and confused. She was perspiring. Her mouth was dry, she tried to say something but words didn’t come out. After a lot of effort she said, “I don’t like this.”

The old man grinned and said, “you are big girl now, you have to learn to enjoy it… and soon you will thank me for teaching this.” He moved his hands underneath her skirt and began caressing her. Saakshi gathered some strength, pushed his hands away and ran out of the room. Meena quickly moved and hid herself behind the door. Her heart broke to see her daughter go through the agony of being touched by a mature man.

Meena slowly dragged her feet to the kitchen. She knew what it was like when someone marauds ones body and soul. She went through similar pangs of molestation when she was young. She remembered living in the dark shadows of sexual harassment when a distant uncle came to live in their house. He often touched her inappropriately, forced her to give him massages. He even scared her and threatened to tell everybody that she was the one doing ‘dirty things’ to him. Luckily, one day Meena’s father and her uncle had a fight over something and the uncle was thrown out of the house. The assault stopped but by then Meena was scarred for life. She lost her self-confidence. She held herself responsible for letting that happen to her. She lived with that guilt and never spoke for herself. She did whatever others told her to do and kept punishing herself for the crime she didn’t commit.

Vinayakji knocked slightly at the kitchen door. Meena’s face was red and her body was burning with hatred for these sick, vile men. But there was not a single grain of regret or shame on this old man’s face. With great ease he said to Meena, “ I think you should talk some sense into this thankless girl. I got her the gift she wanted and still she doesn’t listen to me. May be I’ll get something better next time.” And he laughed at his own pathetic joke.

Meena pricked her fore-finger with her thumb to suppress her anguish and whispered, “yes, I’ll talk to her …Tea is ready, I will be there in few.”

She boiled the tea twice and poured it into the cups. Meena promised to herself that she will not let her daughter go through same pain and misery that she went through. The crack began to appear on the wall; the wall that she built around herself many years back because of someone else’s misdemeanor started to crumble.

She put the cups on the tray and quickly went to the living room where Vinayakji was sitting and reading the newspaper. He began to fold the newspaper. Meena handed him the hot cup. But before he could grab it, she left and the whole cup of boiling tea fell on his groin.

Vinayakji howled in pain, “You B…i…….” he tried to stop himself.

Saakshi came inside the house to see what was going on.

Meena pretended to help him and quickly escorted him to the bathroom. In the bathroom, she slapped him hard on his cheek and said, “next time your hands tried to touch any girl it wouldn’t be tea … it would be something else. I promise even your wife won’t be able to know if you are a man or otherwise.”

He couldn’t dare to look at Meena. She had broken the wall. Her eyes were blazing, she roared, “Now leave and never ever enter this house again.” And she pushed him out.

Vinayakji quickly limped out of the bathroom and into the living room where Saakshi was standing with the CD in her hands. She quietly moved it in his direction and closed the door behind him.

Meena was washing her face when Saakshi came into the bathroom. She handed a towel to his mother and moaned, “I was wrong, Maa… I am sorry … about what I said earlier … you are so brave Maa… I never liked him because he always tried to touch me …”

Meena held Saakshi’s shoulder and said, “Don’t be sorry … you are reason for my strength … And I am sorry for I misjudged him. At times as adults we forget to differentiate between faith and blind faith on people.”

Then she continued, “Saakshi there’s a famous quote by a great author- Don’t allow your wounds to transform you into someone you are not. You are a smart, confident, creative and happy girl … so be that.”

And then she hugged her daughter and began to cry inconsolably. The years of pain was being washed out of her heart and her eyes.